Global Collaboration Day! Thursday, Sept. 17

About GCD

Global Education Day is a 24-hour online event taking place on September 17, 2015,  wherever you are located in the world.  Students, teachers, and organizations are encouraged to host an virtual activity that will connect people on this day.

By registering these activities on this site, others can join in and experience global collaboration.  In turn,  we hope that this day will raise greater awareness of the need for connecting classrooms and education organizations around the world. Empowering student and teachers to create authentic, meaningful experiences will deepen learning and improve educational outcomes for all children. Our hope is that this event will build greater understanding of the possibilities of global education!

And, this year, the Distance Learning team is both a host and a partner for the event.  At 9 AM CDT, ESC 13 DL will sponsor an event with retired Judge Laura Weiss who will help bring the US Constitution to life for students of all ages. Other programs during the 24 hour event can be found at
Need more information – contact the DL team at ESC Region 13 –

We the People celebrate Constitution Day

US Consitution as part of Global Collaboration Day 

A former Texas judge will talk about the importance of the US Constitution in building our institutions and working as a society. The judge will also talk about how it is relevant in today’s society and how it compares to more modern constitutions. Questions from participants will guide the discussion after the judge’s opening remarks.  Be ready with questions that will lead to a deeper understanding of the US Constitution. If you would like to send questions ahead of time, please send them to with “constitution” in the subject line.   9 AM Central  September 17, 2015

From the Constitution Center in Philadelphia, PA

Preamble Challenge
September 17, 2015
7:30 a.m. CDT
To kick off the day, National Constitution Center President and CEO Jeff Rosen will lead students in a rousing reading of the Preamble of the Constitution of the United States on the museum’s front lawn.
Continue reading “We the People celebrate Constitution Day”

The Robots are coming! The Robots are coming!

8 Kubi carts have arrived in Austin and will be available to schools immediately.  The carts are provided at no cost to any school in the ESC Region 13 area that has a student who is homebound or out for an extended period of time.

The student interacts with classmates and teachers through video conferencing manipulating the robotic arm to move the camera in the classroom so that they can follow people or see materials on the desk in front of the camera.  Remote control is through any laptop or tablet that the student has available at their home or in the hospital.

There is more information and a sign up at

eRate changes

While the modernization of the eRate filing system is in progress there have been many questions and the answers are starting to flow.  One big change is that ALL filing will be online so that districts that are using paper forms will need to move to a paperless system for the next eRate filing.

The determination of discount is also in the process of changing and will be a significant change as well.  ERate Central suggests that “applicants should begin to calculate, or at least estimate, their discount rates for FY 2015 as soon as possible. This is particularly important for school districts that now have to use matrix discount rates. In the past, the difference of a percentage point of student eligibility at a school level might affect a district’s discount average by a percent or two. Going forward, the same magnitude difference in student eligibility may affect the district’s rate by ten percent. Any district with a student eligibility percentage currently close to a matrix breakpoint should take special care to maximize its overall NSLP percentage.”  To find out more about this change, go to USAC’s 9.14.14 S&L News Brief.

Fall Re-ViTaL-ization Meeting

Join us on September 25 from 9:00-12:00 for an information packed networking session of Visionaries in Technology and Learning.  We will be sharing information about changes in the distance learning network, upcoming eRate changes, wifi solutions, network know-how, learning management systems, upcoming events, deadlines and more.

This group is open to all educational technology staff – IT, campus techs, instructional techs, tech coaches, network staff, media center librarians and more.  If supporting edtech or integrating instructional tech is your responsibility this is the group for you!

Short presentations will be made by MGRM Pinnacle and SHI International.  Pinnacle is a learning management system and SHI will be talking about wifi installation, management and security.  Both companies will be providing lunch following the meeting.

To register to attend in person access our eCampus system and look for workshop FA1430101.

To attend via video conference contact Region 13 Distance Learning and they will send you the link.

For questions please email or call 512.919.5444.

Going mainstream?

While attending a small conference a while ago, I was in a discussion on collaborative student connections.  Once we got through the list of hurdles that face us, both technologically and pedagogically, we got to the stories of when it works!  And, wow, these are powerful connections.

A group of middle school students working on travel brochures for the countries in the Middle East that they were studying worked their way through the thinking process to the point where one of them wondered if there were “travel experts” they could contact.  The teacher observed that with all the online services for travel today, a “travel agent”  wasn’t in their experience.  Once they had that information they began to look for agents in the Middle East who could help them  – suggestions from the students flew around the room – the agents need to be English speaking, they need to have an email to be contacted, etc.  Once they worked out the parameters for finding a travel agent the search began and led them to a British couple in Cyprus.  Next step?  The students requested a SKYPE interview and got it!  They  asked questions about culture – what to wear and eat, location – what to see,  and safety – where and when to travel.  The travel agents answered all of their questions and then….asked if they could have the top three brochures to display on their website!  The teacher told us that the students couldn’t wait to get started.

Another teacher had a story of collaborative poetry writing between Texas and North Carolina middle school students.  The poems started on Google docs and it wasn’t until the poem was completed that the people at each end were revealed!  Some interesting, non-conventional pairs emerged and added to the students understanding that it’s what is inside that counts as well as creating some excellent poetry.

I remember years ago when we held an online peer review through email. ( It would be so much easier today with online collaborative documents.) We paired third graders from a school with learners with limited language skills and a well –performing school where the students had rich vocabulary.  At the end of the year, we saw improvement in both sets of students.  The vocabulary and grammar skills in the first school showed improvement as we hoped but they also improved in the second school.  Why?   Perhaps because the kids became more aware as they did their reviews.

With so many tools available for collaboration I would love to hear about more classes that are sharing.  Please share your experiences connecting your students to the world they live in.  How do we bring these experiences into the mainstream of education?

Are we there yet? Rambling thoughts on IVC

I remember seeing the demonstration video phones at the 1960s World’s Fair in New York.  (Yes, I am THAT old.)  There were basically two phone booths back to back and you could see the person in the other one on a small screen while talking  to them via a (wired) phone.  Today my grandchildren play with each other though 100 miles apart using wireless tablets or phones with a video conference app.

I have a video conference unit on my desk as many of my colleagues do but still people seem far happier to call, IM or email.   (I know I don’t have that airbrushed look when you call but am sure I still present an acceptable face. )  I’m sure that  this too shall change but how long will it take?  It’s been about 50 years since the World’s Fair and I know most of you have the capacity to video connect with anyone in our office right in the palm of your hand – on your smartphone or tablet.  So why not give it a try…call and see what we look like at  It’s time for the wizard to come out from behind the curtain!

123 IVC

The Distance Learning Team at Region XIII ESC is coming off of a successful week long, collaborative learning experience during which a group of teachers from a variety of districts and schools were immersed in the world of interactive video conferencing. Not only did teachers attend, we also had librarians, campus technology integration specialists and even representatives from a community music school that is venturing into the world of providing music classes and performances to students across the region through video conferencing technology.

This diverse and energetic group collaborated with other teachers across Texas and New York to develop, plan, and promote engaging, interactive classroom lessons spanning multiple subject areas. While developing these lessons, participants received hands-on instruction on how to use a variety of video conferencing technologies. These technologies ranged from user-friendly software that gives a laptop or mobile device  the flexibility to act as an interactive video conferencing device, to more robust room-based systems which enabled participants to share their computer screens with their fellow collaborators at remote sites to help facilitate the brainstorming process and flow of ideas.

Some highlights of this event were several presentations from a wide selection of established content providers that specialize in offering a myriad of virtual field trips and interactive experiences. These content providers offer interactive opportunities for students  of all age levels and in almost all subject areas. The offerings from these content providers include simulated natural disasters in which students have to work together using classroom knowledge to save lives and cross-cultural discussions bringing together students from around the world to discuss current events and find mutual understanding. There was also a discussion with Vietnam veterans and active duty soldiers in which they shared their experiences overseas and upon their return as well as the lessons learned.These opportunities helped to illustrate the vast potential for utilizing video conferencing to enrich classroom learning experiences for students.

The most common reaction from participants was, “Wow. We had no idea you could do that.” Ideas were planted, connections were made, and imaginations were kick started for presenting materials, lessons and experiences in new, engaging and ways. Another “A-ha” moment was the realization of the many ways the Distance Learning Team at Region XIII ESC can help teachers put these ideas into action by facilitating collaborations and helping organize and monitor virtual field trips.The team can also live stream student performances and ceremonies making it possible for friends and family members around the world to share the experience when they’re unable to attend.

Please contact the Distance Learning Team if you’d like to learn more about how we can help bring the world to your classroom.

-Tim Brown

The Right Tools for the Job

The Distance Learning Team at Region 13 is wrapping up another successful school year. It was exciting to see how districts used some of the connectivity tools we have available such as ClearSea and Video Center for the first time.

Classroom teachers are discovering that by using a ClearSea account they now are able to enhance and broaden their students learning experience with virtual fieldtrips or student collaborations. No longer do they have to take their class to another part of the campus to a room that is solely dedicated to video conferencing. By using equipment that they already have in their classroom, they now have a videoconferencing system without all the added costs and logistical issues of moving students. Their classroom computer, projector, microphone and web camera along with ClearSea software is all they need.

Another tool we put into place is VideoCenter. This enables us to stream, record and store videos from video-conferencing events. All a viewer needs is a web browser to be able to watch an event and use the built-in chat feature.

An example of using VideoCenter is large statewide TETN event that you want to watch but not participate. You point your browser to a URL that will be sent to you when you register and you are on your way to receiving the content instantly on your computer.

How would you like to reach out to parents of your students and enable them to watch a school play or some other school activity? We can set you up with your own private channel and assign usernames and passwords that you can send out to parents so they can attend virtually. Smithville ISD had several successful events using this feature during the school year. Parents that could not leave work or relatives that are out of the state or the country were able to watch their child or grandchild perform.

In the short time of using these tools, we are finding them to be game changers in the way we help districts operate more economically and efficiently. For questions about these and how to use them, contact the Distance Learning team at Region 13. Our email address is

Ken Baker

Up, Up and Away … moving forward

It’s been a busy month watching lots of Read Around the Planet presentations, getting set for the GEOchasers in May, starting a grant application, getting ready for summer staff development, setting a schedule to go to presentations at SXSWedu, working on plans for TXDLA, preparing for next year’s budget, taking care of eRate forms, and more.  Seems like the distance learning group has thrown a lot of balls into the air and will be juggling for several months to come.  Luckily, that’s what we love to do.

One upcoming event that we want you to know about is the 123VC summer training event that will run from July 22-25!  It’s an immersion program for video conferences!  Based on PBL, teachers will connect to other teachers around the country and the world to develop PBL lessons that they will use during the 2013-14 school year and will incorporate collaborative projects with other sites around the state or the country.    One obstacle to making this exciting week happen is finding participants.  With all of the required staff development within curriculum areas, curriculum development and more, this type of training often seems like an “add-on”.  So, we are turning to YOU…our readers to help us jump the hurdle…is opening the classroom door to new collaborative opportunities what your teachers need now?  If you answered “yes”, what do you think would be a good way to let them know about this opportunity?  If you answered “no”, we’d love it if you posted a comment to let us know why.

So what’s coming up that might interest you?  Check out the upcoming events on one of these three calendars:

Distance Learning at ESC Region 13 –  Student programs and professional development

Connect2Texas –   Student programs

TETN –  Student programs and professional development

– Carol Teitelman